Hard Times: An American Musical – Theatre Reviews Ltd; Reviews

Jed Peterson is a soulful, contemplative Stephen Foster who broods over his character’s bereavement at the loss of his creativity and ability to give and receive deep love. Almeria Campbell’s rich understanding of Nelly Blythe brings depth and passion to Nelly’s role as reconciler, redeemer, and prophetic voice. John Charles McLaughlin creates the young Irish immigrant Owen’s rage with a craft rooted in perfection and is the perfect foil for Stephane Duret’s contrapuntal anger at the struggles post Civil War black Americans to move successfully to authentic freedom. Philip Callen’s Bowery Boy Michael is as unpleasant a character imaginable in the company of companions attempting to simply get along. Erin West’s Jane Foster bristles with doubt and depression as she tried desperately to discern “what is ailing” her distant husband. All have glorious voices that interpret Foster’s and Kirwan’s music with the care and conviction it requires. Ultimately, Stephen Foster’s deep regrets about some of his early music that misrepresented the African-American culture of pre and post Civil War America morph into America’s regret and shame of not being able to resolve the human issues needed to continue to form “a more perfect union.”
Kudos to 1st Irish 2012 powered by the Origin Theatre Company for bringing Kirwan’s work to the cell and for its uncompromising commitment to celebrate the power and talent of Irish playwrights and its dedication for presenting Irish theatre to New York audiences during this fifth festival season. read more
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